Caledonia Food Co-op Begins Month Of Community Meetings

The logo for the new Caledonia Food Co-op, which volunteers have commissioned a market study for and hired a consultant to help plan. (Courtesy Image)

A group of volunteers working to found the Caledonia Food Co-op will begin a series of meetings with interested community members via Zoom, with the first one planned this evening, July 1.

The public is invited.

Don Moffitt, a consultant, is advising the group. He provided sales forecast and store square footage recommendations from our market study, a newsletter for the effort explains. Moffitt provided “hundreds of educated assumptions about construction costs, debt, membership numbers, loan sources, yearly maintenance, gross margins, salaries, and so on.” And so that is where the heavy lifting begins,”

Local businesswoman Minty Conant is also advising.

The effort still has to “determine the correct square footage of the store and the right balance of our organic, natural, clean, conventional product mix.” There also remains a search for members and real estate to house the co-op.

In January, a national consultant visited the region, and told the board that the area can support and sustain a food co-op.

Debbie Suassuna, CEO of G2G Research Group in Las Vegas, Nev., the consultant brought to the greater St. J area in late January for a 2-day tour of the region told the co-op board that before she left town.

A new coop will be a hybrid, explained Suassuna, which means both a natural foods store and the mix of products a conventional supermarket would have. The Littleton Food Co-op is a hybrid model, she said.

She said a population of about 34,000 people from “trade area” would support the store.

Suassuna said the trade area would stop at the river given the Littleton Co-op being a strong coop in New Hampshire.

To the the south, Barnet and Peacham would be the southern towns of the market area and Lyndon to the north.

Eric Skovsted, a Barnet farmer and chair of the board for the start-up cooperative said the group has been meeting since the fall of 2018.

The group partnered with the Town of St. Johnsbury to apply for a USDA Rural Development grant.

The $30,000 grant, which is allowed the co-op to bring the consultant to town to help with the feasibility study and planning, was received last summer.

The following link is for tonight’s kickoff meeting:

Meetings are also planned July 8, 15, 22 and 29, and links are on the group’s website, https://www.caledoniafood.coop/

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